If you like experiments, stick with me. For this one, you don’t need anything but you and your thoughts. Yes your thoughts, the things that regularly come to your mind without invitation. They can gently come and go or be persistent and haunt you forever. The worst is when you start letting them define who you are. But why is this happening? You did not choose to have those thoughts, right? They just pop up. Spoiler alert! The fight is not about getting rid of them. Your mind is not equipped with a trash, so you have to find a way to handle and manage them. In short, you need a strategy to react to them. To help you do that, Eric Barker details a method that you can experiment with surprising ease: curious observation. If you are a smoker, an emotional eater, a compulsory buyer or a social media addict, you may know how bad these habits are for you, but you still can’t resist the urge to get what you need. This is where curiosity comes into play. You have to be curious about your thoughts. As soon as a thought pops up, Eric Barker suggests to sit there, stay stoic and observe your mind playing dirty tricks on you. You don’t need to resist the bad habit but you need that extra curiosity to raise your awareness. Eventually, this repetitive curiosity will help you build the necessary distance between you and your thoughts and gradually fade the urge to those bad habits. Curiosity is fun and easy. At the end, you are just playing with your mind. And at some point you’ll know it so well that you’ll get the confidence to make fun of it. Let’s play!
We hate being told what to do. That’s a fact. And there is a psychological explanation to this, called ‘’reactance’’. Reactance is a negative emotional state that we experience when we feel like we are not in control of our behavior. Whatever we are being told, the first reaction is to find all the reasons to say no. Reactance is not always a bad thing, it can be a great opportunity to develop our critical mind, but in many cases it can also make us blind. This is especially true when you focus on listing all the cons while ignoring the pros. If you want to find cons you’ll find them, but that won’t help you find a better solution either. I truly believe that there is a paradox in our human nature. We don’t like to loose control, but as soon as we really have it, we kind of freak out. That’s why we usually say in French « la critique est aisée, mais l’art est difficile », which means « It’s always easier to criticize than to act ». Detractors never have a better solution to the one they are fiercely fighting against. Their negative reaction give them the illusion of control. But as soon as you ask them to be part of the solution there is no one left (too much responsibilities). Despite the fact that detractors can be loud, change will always be about leadership. This means, persuading people that what you suggest is the best path to take. In his podcast episode, Jason Feifer shares 3 ways to fight reactance depending on the context. The first one is to give people choices or to let them come up with ideas, this one can work really well at work for example. The second one is to highlight the gap between people’s attitudes and their actions, for instance pointing out to a smoker that it doesn’t make sense to discourage someone from smoking when he continues to do so. And the last one, is a more holistic and essential feature: to build trust. It takes time and perseverance but it remains the best persuasive advantage.